The process of paying for something can be loosely defined as trading money for goods or services. What the NCAA is currently doing is providing the services of young adults and refusing them their due earnings. That sounds alarmingly like slavery.
University of Georgia running back Todd Gurley was recently suspended for allegedly receiving money in exchanged for signed memorabilia, which is against NCAA rules. Now reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston faces the same fate. While the NCAA continues to rake in stacks of money off of their athletes, its officials disallow those athletes from reaching their own prosperity.
Some of the most exciting entertainment our country knows comes from the nearly half a million student athletes who play NCAA sports. Americans gladly pour their hard earned money to see them compete. But none of that money is provided to the young men and women who provide said entertainment.
Let me rephrase that. Their only form of payment comes in the form of the right to attend the colleges for which they make so much money.
Mark Allen Emmert is the current president of the NCAA, a position that came with a $1.7 million base salary in 2013 (and untold amounts of under-the-table benefits). Only avid NCAA fans know who he is. Most couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.
On the other hand, the athletes who are forced to attend class and maintain a respectable GPA while producing in the game receive none of the nearly $1 billion worth of revenue, according to the NCAA tax form made available by the Associated Press. Most of this is earned on the backs of those 18- to 22-year-olds – many of whom come from impoverished upbringings.
Gurley was high on a list of hopefuls for college football’s prestigious Heisman Trophy prior to his indefinite suspension. Winston became the second freshman to win the trophy last year, and is looking to become the second ever two-time winner.
Understandably their autographs are highly sought after, for the same reason that they bring in a steady flow of capital to the NCAA. Capital at a level one would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
As an example, Winston and Florida State plays fellow top-5 team Notre Dame on Oct. 18. That game is expected to challenge the record attendance for FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium, 84,409. The average price of tickets is $209. That computes to some $17.6 million that stands to be made on ticket sales alone. That doesn’t count concession revenue, television rights, and money received for the abundance of sponsors that will have their products placed.
Athletes like Gurley, Winston and the countless before them have brought billions to their schools and NCAA, yet they reap meager compensation. They line the already thick pockets of people like Emmert and university presidents, and stuff the coffers of these businesses we call colleges. But if they attempt to make a little money off their own name, they’re deemed rule-breakers.
The NCAA is a hugely successful organization, one that has been collecting checks hand over fist for more than 100 years.
Yet the NCAA doesn’t allow the majority of their employees – the hardworking student athletes – to receive fair compensation.